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Technology: For Everything Tech

Welcome, fellow Google+ User!

This Collection focuses on a broad range of technology related news, tips, opinions, and commentary. This may include, but is not necessarily limited to, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Mobile Devices, Personal Computers, Wearables, Apps, Browsers, Programming, Quantum Computing, Nanotechnology, and more.

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Enjoy your Streams, fellow Plussers!

~ +Eli Fennell​​, http://elifennell.com/

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Google AI Can Literally 'Zoom and Enhance'

Zoom and enhance clich... oh, wait, you mean they can actually zoom and enhance? Thanks, Google, you just justified the laziest movie trope in history and rendered 2% of all +CinemaSins​ outdated. Good job, guys!

(In all seriousness, this is both really cool and extremely creepy at the same time.)

#Google #ZoomandEnhance

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Oculus Rift Is Dying

Oculus Rift, the VR project whose high profile crowd funding project arguably helped kick off the current VR trend by getting people excited about the technology, has had a lot to live up to after being acquired by Facebook. The company did, after all, pay nearly $3bn to buy them.

Unfortunately for the Social Giant, which not long ago was touting an ambitious vision for a VR future driven by their own social vision, it looks like Oculus is crashing and burning, another casualty of yesteryear's obsession with crowd funded video games and game platforms, few of which went very far (most never even produced products).

The product is getting killed in the market by established players like Sony and even the low cost (but nearly ubiquitously available) Google VR available for the mere investment in a fairly recent Android or iOS smartphone and a cheap headset. And now Best Buy is pulling hundreds of demo locations in their stores due to poor performance. Perhaps worse, they recently lost a $500mn judgment for allegedly stealing some of their tech.

While turnarounds can happen, and Zuckerberg himself suggested it could take a long time for Oculus to pay off, realistically few products come back en vogue when the hype has worn off without substantial success, and costly investments that aren't paying off usually get killed by companies.

"We reached out to Facebook for comment and an Oculus spokesperson informed us that this was part of some “seasonal changes” and that the company is “prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets.” It’s odd that demo stations for successful devices like the Playstation 4 never seem to go out of season.

#Facebook #OculusRift

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Google Announces Major Update To Google Voice

In an official blog post, Google has announced the first significant redesign of the Google Voice apps and websites in half a decade, and some new features, including some previously only available if you used Voice with Hangouts.

(Allegedly you won't need to switch over if you use Voice with Hangouts, but it seems plausible that will change given the decreased emphasis on that service recently.)

The announcement also implies that Voice will be getting more frequent updates in the future, which will be very welcomed if true.

#GoogleVoice

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Google Voice Getting Major Update

Recently, some users have been seeing notifications for a Google Voice update, though when they click to view them, the page fails to load. Now, Google has confirmed they accidentally outed a major new update coming soon.

It has been a long time coming. The service has remained pretty-much-the-same for years, with minor and sporadic updates, not counting a backdoor integration with Hangouts via Settings and a Hangouts Dialer app.

The service offers telephone numbers, voice mail with spam filtering, call screening, number blocking, and other telephony services (pretty much a full suite of such services), and can be used as a forwarding number to other numbers or by itself as a form of VOIP. For the most part, it is a free service where available, though there are charges for international calling.

With Hangouts being scaled back from its once ambitious goal of unifying all Google Messaging services to focus on the enterprise and academic markets using the company's productivity suite and identify platform, this may signal a renewed commitment to it as a standalone. The same technology powers Google's experimental carrier service project Google Fi, as well, and in many ways is not easily scrapped even if its user base is relatively small.

#VOIP #GoogleVoice

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R.I.P. 'Google Killer' Cyanogen

Cyanogen, formerly Cyanogenmod, will be shutting down operations and, thereby, getting out of the phone business. Not long ago, the company came storming onto the Android scene, powered by their success as a community driven Android mod and with some big money backers and OEM partners lined up to help them with their goal of, in the words of CEO Kirt McMaster, "[P]utting a bullet through Google's head," i.e. breaking Google's virtual lock on the Android ecosystem (a lock challenged only by Amazon's Android-based Fire OS and its App Store).

They were riding high in those heady days, but the magic was not to last, as a combination of missteps, and the tricky environment of working with phone makers and cellular carries (whose difficulty they clearly underestimated, which should be noted for those who think Google just isn't trying hard enough to make the best of a bad situation with their own Android partnerships), undermined their efforts and rendered it a poorly received alternative (in market terms, if not necessarily in terms of the underlying approach, depending on how you felt about the latter). This, in spite of a much hyped deal with Microsoft to bundle core apps.

In the end, the final blow may simply have been becoming a victim of their own success. Google is releasing more top quality devices like the Pixel with a pure (or at least purer) Android experience, for those who want such things, and OEM's like Samsung have backed away from excessive tampering with the OS, both key concerns for Cyanogen OS users. The Android update situation remains troubling, but Cyanogen hardly solved this on any scale anyways (and have now stranded users of Cyanogen OS devices with no obvious pathway to being updated), but even here there is hope that things like Seamless Updates and Android API Extensions will provide relief.

#Cyanogen #Android

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ExaGear: Windows Apps on ARM Android and Chrome OS

A new and pricey emulator called ExaGear promises to let users of ARM Android and Chrome OS devices run select Windows x86 apps.

Early testing suggests it can, in fact, run some Windows apps successfully, and others (especially games) not as much, but it may be just enough (and maybe even a bit more) than some Android and Chrome OS users who can't fully divorce themselves from Windows need to keep a few of those 'Must Haves' and take the plunge. At $30, though, it will set you back just a bit.

ExaGear will not run on x86 (i.e. Intel) Android or Chrome OS devices, the former being only a small problem owing to to the near ubiquity of ARM in smartphones and tablets, the latter a large one owing to Intel's popularity for Chromebooks. And, of course, to run on Chrome OS, your device must have access to the Play Store.

ExaGear, then, does the same thing as CrossOver Android (https://plus.google.com/+EliFennell/posts/T3idzzhARag), a Linux Wine based approach, except the latter only supports x86. With both in development, the future of Windows app support for Android and Chrome OS is bright.

#Android #Chromebook

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Google+ Teardown Confirms Location Sharing Moving To Google Maps

An +Android Police teardown of the Google+ v9.3. Android App has confirmed what has been all-but-confirmed before now: the Location Sharing feature that until now has been part of Google+ (after having previously been part of Google Latitude), which allows users to Share their locations and commutes in Real Time with other users, is being moved out of Google+ and into Google Maps.

As with the general move towards deintegrating the Google ecosystem from Google+ (which had previously all-but-wholly absorbed the Google ecosystem of apps and services), this move makes a lot of sense, and the feature will surely get more use being connected with the more ubiquitous Google Maps.

The teardown also revealed an improved Image Cropping feature, which isn't very exciting but will hopefully represent a small improvement to a crucial aspect of social sharing.

#GooglePlus #GoogleMaps.

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Google Keyboard Becomes Gboard

Back in May, Google released a new keyboard app for iOS users called Gboard, with integrated Google Search, GIF Search, and more.

It quickly became one of those 'iOS First' apps that Android users envied, and began to wonder when it would come to Google's own platform. Finally, Google Keyboard was no longer just a Swype and SwiftKey competitor.

Gboard isn't just a keyboard, but rather a clever way of sneaking Google's own Search platform directly into the keyboard and thereby streamlining certain mobile processes that would previously have required bouncing back and forth between multiple apps.

Now Gboard is finally rolling out for Android, but instead of releasing it as a separate app, it is being delivered as an update to Google Keyboard.

If you haven't received the update yet, you can side-load it as an APK and start using it now.

#Android #Gboard

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Microsoft Bringing Desktop Apps To ARM Devices

It's a truism at this point to say that Microsoft, the former Titan of Personal Computing, is desperately, perhaps hopelessly behind in the Mobile Wars. Their Windows Phone efforts have been basically gutted, and they're increasingly trying to establish a place for themselves on competing Operating Systems lAndroid and iOS... a risky proposition for a company with its own history of adeptly destroying competing ecosystems on their own platforms.

They haven't entirely given up, however, as their new move shows: bringing full support for desktop apps, formerly stranded on x86 (i.e. 'Wintel', Windows + Intel) devices, to systems running on ARM chips.

Apart from the obvious advantage of better positioning them to compete at the low end of the PC market with the emerging threat of Chromebooks, this also gives new significance to Windows 10's 'Continuum', which allows a mobile device to become a proper desktop computing environment. Without their desktop apps to bring along, this feature was more a gimmick than useful.

Of course, arguably, this doesn't immediately change the equation. Consumers have shown little desire as yet for mobile devices to take the place of desktop computing environments, despite previous efforts along these lines. For those users who do want such a thing, however, this is a huge step.

It does not, unfortunately for the folks in Redmond, obviously break the vicious cycle whereby a lack of market share in mobile means a lack of mobile apps for Windows 10, which in turn means less market share.

Google is approaching the problem mostly from the other direction by bringing Android apps to Chrome OS, in the hope that developers will optimize for both desktop form factors and tablet-style form factors (a growing number of Chromebooks are hybrids, which can be used like desktop computing systems and like tablets) as well as smartphones. Apple is perhaps best positioned for such a paradigm shift, were they to bring iOS apps to Mac (Apple already has a vibrant ecosystem of tablet-optimized iPad apps, and plenty of desktop optimized apps), but as yet has shown no interest in fusing them.

Which company can bridge these two, creating a true 'All-In-One' Mobile + Desktop app and device ecosystem, may determine who rules the future of personal computing (though Apple, due to its traditional premium pricing, might well get there first and still lose in the long run). For now, at least, the odds still favor players with vibrant mobile ecosystems, over those with vibrant desktop ecosystems but no mobile ecosystem to speak about.

#Windows10 #Continuum
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